A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

from Sylvia Plath – Lady Lazarus on Rap Genius


Here, Plath annuls her existence, an earmark of her underlying depression. She describes her face as a non-descript fabric. The only trace we have of her identity is in her calling it Jewish, which also plays off the last stanza, wherein she writes, “Nazi lampshade.” Given the Nazi reference, this also makes us think of the holocaust, and perhaps implies that she suffers a mental agony reminiscent of the Jews in the Holocaust — although Plath would undoubtedly have agreed her suffering was not of that magnitude.

Next she tells her enemy, presumably a Nazi, to “peel off the napkin” (her face), asking does her Jewish identity terrify him? However, maybe she is asking if what lies beneath the face, her identity, is what terrifies, which would relate back to her mental illness and self-loathing, which she probably had given her suicide attempts.

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